Nepal Tightens Restrictions as COVID-19 Cases Surge

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The second wave of coronavirus infections has been surging in Nepal and many people are blaming travelers from India and several other countries and government’s inability to handle the pandemic for the rise in infections.

To address the public fury, the government of Nepal has decided to halt all domestic flights from Monday midnight and international flights from Wednesday mid-night in order to curb further spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

The cabinet meeting held on Sunday decided to halt flights until May 14, as per the recommendations made by the Central COVID-19 Crisis Management Center. However, chartered flights of both domestic and international airlines are allowed to operate during the suspension period.

‘As the coronavirus cases continue to rise, keeping in that mind, the government has decided to ban all domestic and international flights till 14 May, and only allow chartered flights,” said government spokesperson and Communication Minister Parvat Gurung.

Nepal has also made quarantine mandatory for people arriving in the country from international flights. Foreigners flying to Nepal are subject to a mandatory 10-day quarantine in hotels upon arrival. A negative polymerase chain reaction test result obtained within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin is required for entry into the Himalayan country.

As India has been battered by the second wave as virus imperils, many people came to Nepal by air routes and land routes. People from India used Nepal’s transit to fly to countries like Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong that have banned direct flights from India. These countries have ramped up their efforts to contain the surge of the coronavirus. India has become a global hotspot for pandemics as the second wave of coronavirus hit the country like a storm. In the past two months, the number of Indians flying from India’s capital New Delhi to Kathmandu has almost doubled. According to reports, 8,727 Indians arrived in Kathmandu from April 1-18, while there were only 4,763 Indians in April.  Similarly, many migrant Nepali workers also returned to Nepal as coronavirus cases surged in India.

The government has already halted public transport in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19. Nepal’s government has been struggling to check the spread of the virus as experts warn that the coronavirus cases can rise even more in the coming days. They also fear that several people in Nepal may have caught the mutant virus that hit the neighboring country India. As India and Nepal have open borders, it also fuelled the rise of the virus.

Nepal on Sunday reported the highest- single-day surge of coronavirus cases. The Himalayan country recorded 7,137 new cases with 27 new covid-related cases. The coronavirus cases have crossed over 3 lakhs and related fatalities are over 3,000.



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